Trade, craft, handicraft, art, profession are general terms which designate a pursuit followed as an occupation or means of livelihood and requiring technical knowledge and skill.
Trade is applied chiefly to pursuits involving skilled manual or mechanical labor and the management of machinery or tools <the trade of a carpenter> <a blacksmith’s trade > <he is a plumber by trade >
Craft is not always clearly distinguished from trade , but it tends to be used of those pursuits that involve not only manual or mechanical labor but allow more or less freedom for the exercise of taste, skill, and ingenuity; many of the crafts were once or are still carried on independently in the small shop or home; thus, weaving, tailoring, and goldsmithing are often spoken of as crafts ; the village shoemaker practised a craft , but the laster in a modern shoe factory follows a trade.
Handicraft implies handwork and usually suggests dexterity in manipulation of instruments or of materials; in comparison with craft it tends to imply more definite independence from machinery and it more often applies to an activity carried on for other than purely economic reasons; thus, basketmaking, embroidery, lacemaking, and bookbinding are handicrafts when carried out with the use of simple hand tools whether the products are primarily a source of livelihood or not.
Art as applied to an occupation (compare ART 1 ) implies the use of knowledge and skill by the practitioner and often comes very close to craft in such phrases as the manual arts , industrial arts , household arts , practical arts . But art , when unqualified, usually designates one of the creative pursuits (as painting or sculpture) that, whether practised as an occupation or an avocation, involve an elaborate technique, great skill, definite ends to be achieved, and the possession and exercise of highly personal creative judgment and taste.
Further, art is so freely applicable to the general principles or underlying system of rules, methods, and procedures on which a trade or craft, or a creative pursuit, or a branch of learning or doing, or an aspect of human affairs is based, that it is often difficult, apart from the context, to determine whether the word denotes a pursuit or a technique.
Profession is, in general, applied only to a pursuit that requires prolonged study and training before one is ready to follow it as a means of livelihood; the term also often implies that one has undergone tests of one’s fitness and has won a degree or has given proof of one’s qualifications and has been licensed to practice; it often also implies devotion to an end other than that of personal profit or the earning of a livelihood.